National Cancer Institute Sponsored Study To Evaluate Cholesterol Drug’s Ability to Prevent Colon Cancer

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A new National Cancer Institute (NCI) sponsored study being launched this week at Pittsburgh's Allegheny General Hospital (AGH) will evaluate the cholesterol lowering drug Rosuvastatin (Crestor) for its potential to reduce the risk of colon cancer.

“The possibility of an oral medication that reduces the risk of colon cancer is an extremely exciting idea," said Dr. Thomas Julian, surgical oncologist and principal investigator at AGH.

A new National Cancer Institute (NCI) sponsored study being launched this week at Allegheny General Hospital (AGH) will evaluate the cholesterol lowering drug Rosuvastatin (Crestor) for its potential to reduce the risk of colon cancer.

AGH is one of 200 North American medical centers participating in the “P-5: Statin Polyp Prevention Trial in Patients with Resected Colon Cancer” study, which is being led by the National Surgical Adjuvant Breast and Bowel Project (NSABP).

Rosuvastatin is one of a class of commonly prescribed drugs that lower cholesterol. The new study was developed by the NSABP in response to previous research conducted in large populations of patients taking statins that suggest the drug may also inhibit the growth of colon polyps. Colon polyps can lead to colon cancer if left untreated.

The study will involve 1,740 patients who have recently been diagnosed with early stage colon cancer and who are not already taking statins for high cholesterol. Patients will be randomly assigned to receive either Rosuvastatin or a placebo. Each group will take one pill a day for five years.

“An estimated 102,900 new cases of colon cancer will be diagnosed in the United States this year. It is the third most common cancer found in men and women. As we celebrate Colon Cancer Awareness Month in March, we hope this clinical trial will be an important step towards reducing these numbers in the future,” said Norman Wolmark, MD, Chairman of the both the NSABP and AGH’s Department of Human Oncology.

“The possibility of an oral medication that reduces the risk of colon cancer is an extremely exciting idea. The impressive scope of this new clinical trial will provide us with a much more definitive understanding of the preventative benefit statin drugs may offer in the setting of this prevalent and deadly disease,” said Thomas B. Julian, MD, a surgical oncologist and the study’s Principal Investigator at AGH.

People recently diagnosed with a Stage I or II colon cancer and interested in the study should contact AGH at 412.359.6464. A list of other sites in North America that are participating in the study may be found at the NCI's Clinical Trials Page

Since its beginning more than 50 years ago, NSABP has enrolled more than 140,000 women and men in clinical trials in breast and colorectal cancer. NSABP has research sites at major medical centers, university hospitals, large oncology practice groups, and health maintenance organizations in the U.S., Canada, Puerto Rico, Australia and Ireland. At those sites and their satellites, more than 5,000 physicians, nurses and other medical professionals conduct NSABP treatment and prevention studies.

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